There may be certain conditions under which animals can forgo sleep without serious consequences, even though scientists have considered it an activity that is absolutely indispensible, new research suggests.
Image: Matthew Thimgan
and Cassandra VanDunk
When flies are starved, they are able to stay awake for long periods of time without suffering the negative outcomes of sleep deprivation, including cognitive impairment, according to a study published online today (August 31) in PLoS Biology. The paper demonstrates "that in Drosophila, when there isn't food in the environment, they're able to increase waking time without any of the deleterious effects of sleep loss," said neuroscientist Jerry Siegel of the linkurl:Center for Sleep Research; at the University of California, Los Angeles, who did not participate in the study. There seems to be "this ability to reduce sleep when it's adaptive for the animals to do that," Siegel added. "If there's food...
Brummer (bmm)Lipid storage droplet 2 (Lsd2)bmmLsd2 M.S. Thimgan, et al., "The perilipin homologue, lipid storage droplet 2, regulates sleep homeostasis and prevents learning impairments following sleep loss," PLoS Biology, 8: e1000466, 2010.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?